Q-and-A: WSU's Ben Arbuckle on his vision for a ‘beautiful conglomerate’ on offense
The Cougars' 27-year-old offensive coordinator talks Air Raid, Cam Ward, throwing deep and what he saw at spring practices.
In addition to regular coverage of Washington Huskies football, I’d also like to bring you stories and conversations about other Pac-12 schools. Today, we take a look at the person who will call plays for Washington State’s offense in 2023: Ben Arbuckle, a native of Canadian, Texas, who, at age 27, is the youngest coordinator in the conference — and oversaw an offense at Western Kentucky last season that averaged 36.4 points per game and 6.7 yards per play, both top-15 nationally.
Washington State’s new offensive coordinator studied finance and economics at West Texas A&M, a Division II school where he also played quarterback. His first job out of college was at an oil and gas company. He hated it so much that he quit after a few months to become a quality control assistant at Houston Baptist, connected to then-offensive coordinator Zach Kittley by a mutual acquaintance.
That was in 2018.
Two years later, Ben Arbuckle was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Seminole High School in Texas.
Two years after that, Arbuckle was calling plays for one of the top passing offenses in the country, and helping Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed become the answer to the trivia question: who was the only FBS quarterback with more total passing yards in 2022 than Michael Penix Jr.?1
When WSU coach Jake Dickert hired Arbuckle, 27, in December, he was believed to be the youngest primary offensive coordinator in the Power 5. Arbuckle replaces Eric Morris, who left after one season to become head coach at North Texas. Like Morris, Arbuckle favors a version of the Air Raid offense, though their systems are different in certain ways.
I’ve been curious about Arbuckle’s background, offensive philosophy and rapid ascent to his current position. I caught up with him for a conversation about small-town living, his coaching influences, Cam Ward’s progression, WSU’s spring practices and what to expect from the Cougars’ offense this season.
Questions and responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.